Thematic Mapping Engine, Plugin

TME plugin GDP in Google EarthPeriodically during the last three years since Google Earth was released, some talented developer gets the Google Earth bug and develops a wave of cool stuff. Right now, the guy with the most momentum is Bjørn Sandvik at the United Nations Association (UNA) of Norway. He’s written a flood of blog posts in the last few weeks at his Thematic Mapping Blog with really innovative visualizations and applications of GIS technology for Google Earth. This week, he’s released a cool new application he calls the Thematic Mapping Engine (TME). TME lets you easily take data (no programming required!) from UNdata and create initially 3D prism charts (country shape files represent data about each according to height for things like life expectancy, population, etc.). Bjørn’s TME lets you easily create different charts and view them in Google Earth in 3D. He also has plans for other kinds of chart projections/symbols. Not only that, but based on initial feedback, he’s now added the ability to view the output using the new Earth API plugin. So, if you have the GE plugin, you can view the output right on the web page. The screenshot here shows one of the charts with the plugin. You can still get a KML version for loading in the full GE as well. Great idea!
See also Bjørn’s series of posts on different ways to map symbols in Google Earth.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. If you like what Bjorn is doing, and we certainly do, you may also have an interest in checking out UUorld, a small software company based in San Francisco. We host about 12,000 statistics and with the free version you can use any of those stats to create KML files for Google Earth. The final images are nearly identical to the snapshots from Bjorn.
    We have been fans of Bjorn and his Thematic Mapping Blog since he started posting — Keep up the great work Bjorn!

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